Men’s football: Cardinals want to revive it – West Central Tribune

WILLMAR – After a state tournament, the Cardinals men’s soccer team, with its depth and versatility, is gearing up for another opportunity at a Class AA state title.

The Cardinals went undefeated in the 2021 regular season with a 14-0-2 record before finishing in fourth place in the state tournament with an 18-2-2 record.

“It was an incredible run,” Cardinals head coach Jeff Winter said. “This year’s team wants to win the section, the conference and come back to the state.”

The 2021 Cardinals men’s soccer team has scored 97 goals and conceded 22. The 75 goal differential ranks second in program history.

But as players graduate and evolve each year, teams are never the same. Willmar has five players on his current roster as of 2021.

Some key players Willmar lacks include Jordy Contreras, a Mr. Soccer 2021 contender and Class AA All-State First Team member, and Abdullahi Mohamud, who was voted the team’s MVP and was a member of the First Class AA All-State team after leading the Cardinals with 25 goals and 40 points.

“We shouldn’t compare ourselves to our team from last season,” Cardinals senior captain and defenseman Kadar Muhumed said. “We have our own style and our own make-up.”

Cardinals senior defenseman Kadar Muhumed throws the ball down the field during a game against the Sauk Rapids Storm on Tuesday September 6, 2022 at Willmar High School.

Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Willmar is off to a strong start in 2022, going 3-0 overall with two conference wins despite “some slow starts so far this season.”

The Cardinals beat Monticello and St. Cloud Apollo similarly in their first two games, winning both 1-0.

Using their depth against Sauk Rapids, the Cardinals outplayed the Storm en route to a 7-0 victory on Tuesday. Five of their goals came in the second half.

This deep and versatile roster has created some good problems for winter. He made roster changes throughout the season, trying to find the right place for his players.

“Almost everything we do with them works,” Winter said. “There are guys who can play four or five positions. … We have guys who come off the bench who would start in a lot of other teams, so it’s been difficult to find a line-up.”

The Cardinals are currently running a 4-1-4-1 formation versus the 4-2-3-1 formation Winter used in 2021.

Says Winter, “You have to adapt to the skills of your players every year.”

Willmar already have five different goalscorers this season. Junior midfielder Idd Ali leads with three goals. All came in the game against Sauk Rapids.

Senior captain and goaltender Andrew Ziebarth returns to the net for the Cardinals. He has made 10 saves in three games this season.

“Our team – we’re not just a team – we’re also a family,” Cardinals senior captain and defenseman Omar Gavarrete said. “We all love each other and our bond is strong.”

For two weeks in the 2022 season, Willmar ranks No. 9 in the state’s Class AA rankings.

“I love this program and these guys,” Winter said. “We are so unique because we truly represent the student body at Willmar. I will always be proud of that.”

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